Bloomberg News

Japanese Stock Futures, Australian Shares Advance on U.S. Data

December 15, 2011

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stock futures and Australian shares rose after U.S. data on jobless claims and manufacturing beat estimates, easing concern Europe’s debt crisis will drag the global economy into a recession.

American depositary receipts of Honda Motor Co., which gets 44 percent of its sales in North America, rose 0.3 percent from the closing price in Tokyo. Those of Advantest Corp., a maker of memory-chip testers, rose 0.7 percent. James Hardie Industries SE, a supplier of building materials that gets 68 percent of sales from the U.S., rose 1.7 percent.

Futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 8,405 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 8,370 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,400 in Osaka, at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed.

“The U.S. economy is ending the year in a bit better shape than people had anticipated, and that is good, but Europe is obviously not,” said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which oversees about $150 billion. “The European economy is heading toward recession next year, and I think it’s going to continue to weigh on markets.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.1 percent today. The index rose 0.3 percent in New York yesterday after U.S. initial jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 366,000 last week, the fewest since May 2008. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was 390,000.

‘Escalating’ Crisis

Separately, two reports showed manufacturing in the New York and Philadelphia regions expanded more than forecast in December. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index accelerated to the highest level in seven months, to 9.5 from 0.6 in November. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s general economic index increased to 10.3 in December from 3.6 last month.

Gains in stocks may be limited today after International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said yesterday that Europe’s crisis is “escalating” and cannot be resolved by one group of countries.

Chinese stocks trading in the U.S. fell to a two-month low, led by declines for Baidu Inc. and Cnooc Ltd., on mounting concern that the slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy may worsen. The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index of the most-traded Chinese stocks lost 1.3 percent to 93.46, the lowest closing level since Oct. 7.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 19 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 3.3 percent drop by the S&P 500 and a 15 percent loss by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.5 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.3 times for the S&P 500 and 10.2 times for the Stoxx 600.

--Editor: Jason Clenfield.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yoshiaki Nohara in Tokyo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at

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